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Frog of the Week

Magdalena Giant Glass Frog (Ikakogi tayrona)

Common Name: Magdalena Giant Glass Frog
Scientific Name: Ikakogi tayrona
Family: Centrolenidae – Glass Frog family
Locations: Colombia
Size: 1.2 inches (28 mm)

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in the Magdalena department of Colombia, at altitudes up to a mile (1790 meters) high. They are an arboreal species of frog, living up in the trees. During the day, the frogs will hide on the back of leaves, camouflaging in with their translucent skin. Glass Frogs are really small, so even a frog reaching not even 1.5 inches long is considered gigantic.

The males of the species will mark out territory in leaves over hanging a stream. They will fight other males that enter their territory. The males even have humeral spines on their arms that they use to fight the other males. Eventually, the males will start calling for the females. Once the females arrive, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs on the leaves and the male will fertilize them.

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is the only known Glass Frog known that females will provide parental care for their offspring. In the other species, parental care is either provided by the male or not at all. The females will brood the eggs, protecting the eggs from predators and keeping them hydrated. Eventually, the eggs will hatch and the tadpoles will fall into the stream.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Magdalena Giant Glass Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. They are found only in a small area where habitat destruction is an increasing problem.

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Crab-eating Frog (Fejervarya cancrivora)

photo by W.A. Djatmiko

Common Name: Crab-eating Frog, Mangrove Frog, Asian Brackish Frog, and Crab-eating Grassfrog
Scientific Name: Fejervarya cancrivora
Family: Dicroglossidae – Forked Tongued Frog family
Locations:  Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Introduced Locations: Guam and Papua New Guinea
Size: 3.1 inches (80 mm) for females, 2.75 inches (70 mm) for males

The Crab-eating Frog is thought to be the most salt tolerant amphibians in the entire world. They are able to survive in brackish waters for extended periods of time and briefly survive swimming in salt water. With this species talent, they are able to feast upon crabs and other small crustaceans, hence their name. They are found along the shorelines, mangrove forests, and inland wetlands.

Reproduction for the frogs is pretty standard. They can breed year round but most activity is at the start of the wet season. At the start, the males will call for the females from a water body. Once the female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus positiion. Then, female will lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. Neither parent will provide any parental care for the offspring. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles that transform later into frogs.

The Crab-Eating Frog is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Least Concern of becoming Extinct. The frog has a wide range and is plentiful throughout it. They especially thrive in rice paddy fields. Potential threats to the survive of the frogs is the habitat destruction and over harvesting the frogs for food.

Frog of the Week

Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus hurterii)

Common Name: Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Scaphiopus hurterii
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma
Size: 1.75 – 3.25 inches (4.4 – 8.3 cm)

The Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is named after naturalist Julius Hurter, former curator of the St. Louis Academy of Science. They were once considered a subspecies of the Eastern Spadefoot Toad but was moved to being a full species. Like all Spadefoot Toads, the Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is mostly fossorial, spending most of its time in burrows underground. They have keratonized sheaths on their rear feet that they use to help dig. Spadefoot toads can be distinguished from other groups of toads due to their vertical, cat-like eyes.

The easiest time to find a Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is during the breeding season from late spring into summer. They breed following heavy storms that fill up temporary pools of water. Mating only lasts a day or two so you need to get out there quick. The males will call out from the shallows of the pools to attract a mate. Once the mate arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and then the male will fertilize. Neither parent provides any care for the offspring.The eggs hatch in 48 hours and the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis in two weeks. This is due to the limit time they have before the pond dries up. Surprisingly, the tadpoles will eat each other if there isn’t enough food in the ponds.

Frog of the Week

Tarahumara Frog (Rana tarahumarae)

Tarahumara Frog
photo by Jim Rorabaugh of USFWS

Common Name: Tarahumara Frog
Scientific Name: Rana tarahumarae
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Arizona
Size: 2.5 – 4 inches (64 – 102 mm)

The Tarahumara Frog is found in the montane canyons of southern Arizona and down into Mexico. Their main habitat is rocky streams and plunge pools. They breed in these permanent bodies of water from April to May. The male frog will call out to the females though they lack vocal sacs like other frogs have. The female will arrive and the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Females can lay up to 2200 eggs at a time. Neither parent will provide any parental care for their offspring. The tadpoles can take over 2 years to complete their metamorphosis.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Lists categorizes the Tarahumara Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. The frog is extinct in Arizona and is steadily disappearing from Mexico. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease, is believed to have caused large die offs of the frogs. Other reasons for the declines in their numbers include invasive species, pollution, and habitat destruction. Invasive species, such as the Blue Gill and American Bullfrog, feast upon the frog and their tadpoles. Much of the range of the Tarahumara Frog in Arizona has been taken over by Bullfrogs.

There are currently projects working to reintroduce the frogs into Arizona. The first reintroduction was done in 2004. All of the frogs sadly died out over the next 10 years due to Chytrid Fungus and flooding. In 2012 and 2013, frogs and tadpoles were once again reintroduced but a die off happened due to chytrid fungus again. There’s still hope enough survived to continue the population. More plans for reintroduction are being considered.

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Small Tree Frog (Rhacophorus lateralis)

SmallTreeFrog
photo by Dr. Gururaja K.V. Acharya
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Small Tree Frog, Boulenger’s Tree Frog, Small Gliding Frog, or Winged Gliding Frog 
Scientific Name: Rhacophorus lateralis
Family: Rhacophoridae – Asian Tree Frog family
Locations: India
Size: 1.22 inches (31 mm)

The Small Tree Frog is found in tropical rain forests and deciduous forests of the southern Western Ghats in India. They are a member of the genus Rhacophorus, known as the Parachuting Frogs due to them being able to glide from tree to tree with their highly webbed fingers.

The history of the Small Tree Frog is rather weird. They were first described by George Albert Boulenger in 1883 but no other specimens of the species was found for over a hundred years. Some researchers questioned the validity of the species. Thankfully, researchers in 2000 “rediscovered” the species.

Small-Tree-Frog
photo by Vipin Baliga

Reproduction

The Small Tree Frog breeds from June to September. First, the males will call from territory they take out in the tree branches over hanging water. They will defend their territory from other males. They will even jump on rival male’s head so it can’t call. Once a female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will move to a single leaf where she begins laying her eggs. While she is laying the eggs, the male will fertilize them at the same time.

Once she is done laying the eggs, the male leaves but her work is not done. Next, she folds the leaf around the eggs, thus protecting them from drying out. This is a unique form of parental care in frogs, with only a few other species creating nests over water with leaves. Then, she leaves and provides no further parental care for her offspring. Eventually, the eggs hatch and drop from the leaf and into the water. The tadpoles eventually complete their metamorphosis and return to the trees.

Conservation of the Small Tree Frog

The Small Tree Frog is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Endangered. They are found only in two locations. Luckily, one of the locations in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Deforestation of the forests that they are found in is the main threat to the frogs. The land is being transformed into farms and timber planations.

Frog of the Week

Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Western Chorus Frog or Midland Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris triseriata
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee
Size: .3 – 1.5 inches (10 – 37 mm)

The Western Chorus Frog is a poorly named frog, due to it not living anywhere close to the west. It used to be part of a species complex with other Chorus Frogs, such as the Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum), but they were eventually all split into their own species. The Western Chorus Frog is often confused with other species of chorus frogs. Differences between the chorus frog species have to do with location and leg size so it can be really confusing. While chorus frogs are a member of the tree frog family – Hylidae, they are not found climbing high in the trees but usually around ground level. Due to their small size, they can be rather hard to find. Best time to locate them is during the breeding season when they are calling.

 Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife

The Western Chorus Frog starts to breed in February or March, depending on when the snow melts. They will continue to breed until the end of April or early May. The males of the species will start to call from temporary bodies of water like flooded ditches, flooded fields, and ponds. Females will come to the water and choose a mate. Once that happens, the male will grasp the female from behind in the amplexus position. Then the female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female can lay 300 eggs at a time. Neither parent provides any parental care for the offspring. The eggs hatch a week later and a tadpole emerges. The tadpole takes 3 months to complete their transformation into a juvenile frog.

Frog of the Week

Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana boylii)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog
Scientific Name: Rana boylii
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States
US Locations: California and Oregon
Size: 1.5 – 3.2 inches ( 3.8 – 8.1 cm)

The Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog is known for the yellow markings on the underside of their legs and extends to their belly. They live along the streams in the mountains of California and Oregon.

The breeding season starts at the end of March and continues to the end of May. Mating takes place in streams and rivers instead of the usual ponds and lakes that other frogs use. The males will call underwater to try to attract females. They do occasionally call above the water. Once the female selects a male, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. The female will lay between 300 – 2000 eggs, averaging around 900, and the male will then fertilize them.

Neither parent provides any parental care. The eggs hatch between 5 – 37 days days and the tadpoles transform between 3 and 4 months.Breeding end of March to start of May, streams rivers, males call underwater, 300 – 2,000, averaging 900. transform 3-4 months, hatch 5 – 37 days, typical breeding

The Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog is a candidate for the United States’ Endangered Species List and is already listed on the state of California’s Endangered Species List. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List also lists them as Near Threatened. The frogs have disappeared from almost 45% of its range. Numerous different things have affected the frog’s populations. The large, introduced American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) feast upon any smaller frog than it, including the Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog. Introduced trout Pesticide use has decreased population numbers. Dams have altered the habitat that they call home.

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Two New Toad Species from the Western USA

Two new species of true toads from the family Bufonidae, the True Toad family was discovered in the state of Nevada in the United States. They were confused with the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas), very much like the newly discovered Dixie Valley Toad (Anaxyrus williamsi). Researchers, Michelle R. GordonEric T. SimandleFranziska C. SandmeierC. Richard Tracy, performed genetic testings to discover the new species.

photo by M. R. Gordon

 Railroad Valley Toad (Anaxyrus nevadensis)

The name of the toad comes from the area it was found, the Railroad Valley. They are a rather small toad, averaging only 2.5 inches long. Another distinguishable trait of the Railroad Valley Toad is their mottled stomach.

photo by M. R. Gordon

Hot Creek Toad (Anaxyrus monfontanus)

Just like the Railroad Valley Toad, the Hot Creek Toad is named after the area that they are found in. They are smaller than the Railroad Valley Toad, only averaging around 2.3 inches (59.6 mm). The Hot Creek Toad has rather larger parotoid glands (ball behind the eye) for such a small toad.

The life history of the toads are not much different than the most other toads. They are nocturnal, emerging from their burrows at night to hunt and eat.

You can read the full scientific paper here – https://bioone.org/journals/Copeia/volume-108/issue-1/CH-18-086/Two-New-Cryptic-Endemic-Toads-of-Bufo-Discovered-in-Central/10.1643/CH-18-086.full

Frog of the Week

Three-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata)

photo by Geoff Gallice 

Common Name: Three-striped Poison Frog
Scientific Name: Ameerega trivittata
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela
Size: 2 inches (50 mm) for females, 1.65 inches (42 mm)

The Three-striped Poison Frog is a diurnal species of frog found among the leaf litter in tropical rain forests. They are able to be active during the day thanks to their bright colors and their poison. The bright colors warn predators not to eat them due to their poison. They obtain their toxicity from the ants they eat in the wild. The stripes on the frog vary in color from green, yellow-green, yellow, to orange. Their beautiful colors make them attractive to pet owners. They lose their toxicity in captivity, making them safe. Always make sure to buy captive bred frogs from reputably breeders.

Reproduction happens year round but reaches its peak during the rainy season from May to October. Males will stake out territory on perches above the ground. The males will fight other males who enter their territory. Females select males on how long they have called on their territory and how large the territory is. Once the female selects a mate, the male will grasp the female from behind in amplexus. The female will lay the eggs under leaves and the male will then fertilize them. Females will lay between 15 – 30 eggs at a time.

photo by Shawn Mallan

The males of the species provide parental care for their offspring. The males will carry recently hatched tadpoles to water sources for them to live in until they complete their metamorphosis. The male will keep them on their backs for days until they find a spot. It takes the tadpoles between 41 to 54 days to complete their metamorphosis.

Frog of the Week

Black Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis moreletii)

photo by  Sean Michael Rovito

Common Name: Black Eyed Tree Frog, Morelet’s Treefrog, or Black Eyed Leaf Frog
Scientific Name: Agalychnis moreletii
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico
Size: females around 2.5 inches (64.2 mm), males around 2.3 inches (58.6 mm)

The Blacked Eyed Tree Frog is the less popular cousin of the Red Eyed Tree Frog. Like the Red Eyed Tree Frog, they are nocturnal, spending the day hiding on leaves off trees. The frogs can be found in the pet trade but most of them are wild caught. Buying wild caught frogs is wrong in my opinion. The species epithet moreletii is in honor of french naturalist and illustrator Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet. Morelet didn’t study frogs, he was actually really interested in mollusks.

During the rainy season, the males of the species will start to call on elevated areas around pools, lakes, and streams. The female frog will select a mate and the two will embrace in amplexus. The female will lay her eggs on rocks and leaves over hanging water and the male will fertilize them. The female lays between 50 to 70 eggs. Once the tadpoles hatch in 5 to 10 days, they fall right into the water to finish their metamorphosis. This stage of the metamorphosis takes around 55 days.

While the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List only lists the Black Eyed Tree Frog as Least Conservation of becoming extinct, the species is in trouble. It was formerly listed as Critically Endangered in 2004 due to Chytrid Fungus wiping out populations in Mexico. It was predicted the fungus would eliminate populations in other countries. So far, the disease hasn’t done that. The habitat of the frogs are fragmented and are endangered due to habitat destruction for farms and cities.